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The Desert Rats (1953)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 20 May 1953 (USA)
Richard Burton plays a Scottish Army officer put in charge of a disparate band of ANZAC troops on the perimeter of Tobruk with the German Army doing their best to dislodge them.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writer:

Richard Murphy
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Burton ... Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts
James Mason ... Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Robert Newton ... Tom Bartlett
Robert Douglas ... General
Torin Thatcher ... Col. Barney White
Chips Rafferty ... Sgt. 'Blue' Smith
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ... Lt. Harry Carstairs (as Charles Tingwell)
Charles Davis Charles Davis ... Pete
Ben Wright ... Mick
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Storyline

Rommel has the British in retreat on his way to the Suez Canal. All that stands in his way is Tobruk, held by a vastly out numbered force of Australian troops. Richard Burton leads these troops on daring raids against Rommel, keeping him off balance as they earn the nickname 'The Desert Rats'. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

20 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Desert Rats See more »

Filming Locations:

Yuma, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,320,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was banned in Egypt, as the British were still occupying the Suez Canal and the Sudan. See more »

Goofs

When the British planes are firing at the trucks carrying the prisoners, the Germans fire back but appear to be using American Thompson M1A1s as opposed to MP40s. See more »

Quotes

General: Am I right, Barney?
Col. Barney White: I most certainly hope so, sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 1941 LIBYAN DESERT NORTH AFRICA See more »

Connections

Referenced in Modern Problems (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Greensleeves
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the harmonica
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A fine film that highlights an almost forgotten campaign in WWII.
30 August 2001 | by countryway_48864See all my reviews

The Desert Rats is an unpretentious war film that tells a good story with economy. The heroics come without drum-rolls.

The most fascinating part of this film is to watch both the marvelous Robert Newton and the under-rated James Mason give Richard Burton acting lessons.

Burton tends to chew the scenery when he snarls, "Good-morning," as though he were the youngest in a large family, doing anything for attention.

Newton counters Burton's unnecessary histrionics with a beautifully modulated realization of-himself in disguise as Prof. Bartlett, Burton's old instructor. I think this is the most honest look at the REAL Newton on film. The rueful man who clearly understands his inability to stay sober, but still has enough control to see his own and everyone else's situation clearly. He is the kind, timorous, brilliant failure who, in one burst of glory, up-stages his more successful juniors. Newton delivers a truly magical performance.

James Mason also delivers a balanced and multi-layered Rommel. Of course he practiced playing this brilliant German General in the better-known film, The Desert Fox.

Burton comes across as pure ham in The Desert Rats, but there IS one scene he has where he is honest and effective. He explains to Bartlett that the picture of the young woman in his wallet is his wife. The picture actually IS Burton's wife, pre-Elizabeth Taylor.

Otherwise, although Burton is billed as the star, the film belongs to Newton and Mason. See it for the pleasure of their company.


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